An exciting life

August 28, 2008 | Uncategorized | 17 comments

This isn’t the Part II to my last post, it’s actually an older post that was originally published on August 27, 2007, the day before labor was scheduled to be induced for baby #3. I wasn’t planning on doing another post in the Flashback Series this week, but given the subject matter and that it was written exactly one year ago today, I thought it was appropriate.


One thing I’ve always wanted is an interesting, exciting life. By “exciting” I don’t mean that I need all my days to be packed with BASE jumping while handling rattlesnakes, but just that I’ve always craved a life where I’d be challenged and stimulated, where there’d frequently be something new and different going on, where I’d not spend much time stuck in a rut or bored.

And back in my pre-conversion life, I was pretty sure I’d hooked that up. When my husband and I were first together we traveled extensively, lived in the downtown entertainment district, went from zip-lining in the jungles of Costa Rica to underground raves in San Francisco, took big risks with our careers, threw big parties that included fascinating people from all walks of life, involved ourselves in interesting side businesses and organizations, etc. etc. I felt like I had done what I wanted to do: I felt like I lived an exciting life.

This has come to mind lately as friends who’ve known me for a long time have called to ask how I feel about tomorrow, when I’ll have my third baby in three years. A couple of girlfriends who have known me the longest have expressed a particularly pointed curiosity about what I think of all this. “Your life now is so, umm, ” one friend said as she struggled for a way to phrase it, “so different now than it used to be. Do you miss it?”

When she asked that question, if I missed my old life, I realized that I really don’t at all. The biggest reason is, of course, that back then I didn’t know that God existed. As I’ve said before, the worst day with God is far better than the best day without God. But there’s another reason I don’t miss it, one that may surprise some people: it wasn’t that exciting. Not compared to my life now, anyway.

While I probably experienced more surface-level thrills back then such as stepping off of a plane in a new country, or shaking hands with some political bigwig whose fundraising party we had managed to sneak into, it was all basically predictable. Scheduled. I was firmly under the illusion that my life was mine to control, so all excitement had its proper place on the calendar. And when events played out that I had not anticipated, that did not fit with my plans for my life, I’d go into a mode of trying to get everything back in line with an iron fist, wallowing in frustration and angst until I forced things back on track.

It was like riding a roller coaster at an amusement park: exciting, yes. But nice and safe and orderly. Plenty of surface-level thrills without much unpredictability. The car stays safely on the tracks and your route is carefully controlled.

Discovering God and deciding to trust him with my future and to live my life according to his rules has been like getting off the roller coaster and leaving the amusement park — not for a life of boredom, as I might have imagined it to be when I was younger, but for a life of true excitement. If all the carefully planned activities of my early 20’s were like riding a roller coaster, turning my life and my future over to God is like whitewater rafting on an uncharted river. It’s a life filled with plenty of slow, steady parts where I’m just floating along and taking in the scenery; and sometimes there’s rough water; other times there are huge rapids and real danger; but I never really know what’s around the next corner.

When I was younger I would have been shocked and a bit incredulous at hearing that living with a strict faith like orthodox Catholicism would lead to a more rich, more exciting life than anything I’d ever experienced. But, really, it makes sense. What is more intriguing than the fact that the Creator of the universe has a will for each one of us at every moment of every day, and that we are able to tap into that knowledge? What is more exciting than knowing that all we need to do is take life day by day, discern where God seems to be leading us this morning or this afternoon, and then just sit back and hold on for the ride, which may very well take us into uncharted territory that we would have never discovered by ourselves?

I’ve thought about this many times over the past few weeks as I’ve worked to get the house ready for the baby. As I was assembling the new crib yesterday I thought with a smirk, “Boy, I would have never guessed that this is what I would be doing this weekend.” A year ago I would not have imagined that I’d have another baby in August 2007. That certainly wasn’t my plan. But these past nine months have been a wild ride, and something tells me that after tomorrow I’ll have eight squirmy pounds of living proof that God’s plans are always more exciting than our own.

17 Comments

  1. Shelly W

    I love this! You are absolutely right when you say (and I paraphrase) that one boring day with God is more exciting than one day without him. I’m always telling my kids that there is no more fulfilling life out there than the life of following Christ. None. Period. I’m glad you brought this reminder today.

  2. Soul Pockets

    Wonderful post. Being a SAHM with four kids and plans to homeschool, I will sometimes get asked this question,”Wouldn’t it be nice to come and go as you please, or travel to great places?” My answer to that is yes, all that would be nice, but I am one who likes to live on the wild side.

  3. Abigail

    Happy, Happy 1st Birthday to a sweet baby girl! Many squeezes from your D.C. fan club!

  4. Meta

    I’m reminded of a song from Pocahontas: “I look once more, just around the riverbend…”

    Very exciting, isn’t it? I have no clue what God is doing with my life these days. Often times it frustrates me, but usually only because it’s not what I had planned. I also once heard a quote that says, “Joy is the emotion springing from the deep confidence of the Christian that God is in perfect control of everything and will bring forth good leading toward our eternal salvation.”

    Talk about surrender! And congrats on #4!

  5. Teresa

    Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
    Psalm 127:3

    Prayers for a healthy baby !

  6. Anonymous

    I can appreciate your attitude towards your new life…but you’re leaving one thing out: you’ve done so many things that you now don’t have to feel like you’ve “missed out.” I’ve never really used my college education, but it’s always THERE.. I take satisfaction in my hard work and accomplishment.
    You have the better life now, but I’m not sure if you would have appreciated it as much if you didn’t have your past experiences.
    Milemom

  7. Teresa

    Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.

    Psalm 127:3

    Praying for a healthy baby !

  8. The Downtown Boutique

    Congratulations on your new baby! How exciting! I can completely relate to your comment about your worst day walking with God being far better than your best day without Him. I think of things that I did in my life before I started serving Him, before I gave my life completely over to Him. They seemed like fun back then, but I also knew that there were many nights that I cried myself to sleep because I was so unhappy or lonely, even in the midst of “fun” nearly every night! I was always going out somewhere. It didn’t matter where, or that I had to work in the morning.

    But things have definitely changed. I love my life in Christ now. It’s “safe” (safer than my life before Him), but definitely not boring!

    God bless your family, and especially your new addition.

    Angie

  9. Christine

    Well you are blessed. I know a lot of moms out there that would love love love to have another 7 or 8lb (i prefer 7lb) baby.

    Your story is so interesting.

  10. november

    Hey Jen,

    Like you, I dread having a boring life and have a very adventurous spirit. One of the most appealling things about Christ is that he offers us life and life to the full!

    Although I’ve been a Christian for practically all my adult life, I’ve found myself grumbling and frustrated when I feel like that promise isn’t being fulfilled. And on all, ALL occasions where I’ve experienced those feelings, God has shown me that they were a result of my own failure to embrace what God has for me and desire to continue with my own agenda. In that regard sometimes I haven’t been much better than non-believes. Thanks be to God, however; he’s been patiently working on me.

    Thanks for re-posting this, though. This was a real good ‘un for me (although, not many of them are not. The Spirit uses you mightily in this regard).

    Hoping your littlest one has the very best 1st birthday!

    Congrats, again!

  11. SuburbanCorrespondent

    Isn’t there a famous quote from Chesterton addressing this? Something about Orthodoxy being exciting?

  12. The Koala Bear Writer

    So often you write about things that I’ve been pondering. I struggle with feeling my life is humdrum and boring, and maybe if I hadn’t gotten married right after college and then had a baby right away, I could have done more interesting things, like some of my friends are. But then my husband does something to surprise me, or we just have a fun afternoon or evening together, or Sunshine gives me a huge smile or masters another accomplishment, and I feel like yeah, this is worth it. I like your analogy to the whitewater rafting. Life is definately an adventure! 🙂 Thanks for reposting this.

  13. Anonymous

    I feel like a schmuck, I forgot to offer my congratulations (with my original comment) on your joyful news. Even after five children, I am filled with awe at every new baby I see..always a miracle to me.
    My guys are getting a little bigger now and I REALLY miss the mud boots-and-peanut butter sandwich-stage. You;ll be SO okay with this new little babe! (but, you ain’t no poster child for NFP lady!) LOL
    Milemom

  14. mariam_...

    HAPPY 1st BIRTHAY to your girl!!
    I’m not a mum, but I guess this must have been a totally exciting day.

    Great post.
    In my case, I usually want to have everything under perfect control.
    “My worst day with God…” OK, I’d longed for ONE person that believed in God to say that. The few times they do, it feels like when you are preoccupied with things and something hits your head, and you’re suddenly in the present day again.

  15. Jane D

    Happy Birthday to your now 1 year old. Watching the growth and all the changes in the first year is definitely exciting (some days more than others). And you are giving her a new sibling. What a great gift. We are praying for you all.

  16. Diane L. Harris

    How true are the words that John Newton wrote over two hundred years ago, “I once was blind but now I see” (from “Amazing Grace”). We are so convinced, before we surrender to our Savior, that we will lose something valuable when we give in to Him. What a surprise to find out that what we lose are the chains that we didn’t know were keeping our souls from soaring on the wings of salvation.

    It’s funny, Jennifer, that you talk about getting off a roller coaster in your post, “An Exciting Life.” In my book, “Stepping into the Light: You’re a Christian, what now?” I write about the need for control that had me so bound up in my pre-Christian days. I really like your analogy, though I used a different one as follows:

    “God broke my controlling spirit by turning my life into something like a bicycle ride on a roller coaster track. The ride didn’t stop when I admitted I had no ability to master it—I believe it will go on until I die. But, oh what a release I felt the day I realized that someone else was on the seat in front of me, pedaling. I wrapped my arms around Jesus and let Him take over the handlebars too.”

    Jennifer, the wonderful stories in your “Conversion Diary” and will bring me (and countless others) back again and again, I’m sure. God bless us.

    Diane L. Harris
    http://www.steppingintothelight.net

  17. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin

    God certainly has taken me places I never would have thought to consider! And I am so grateful to Him for the blessings He has deluged me with, when I showed up where He wanted me to be.

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